The seventh-ranked Princeton open crew has several battle-tested seniors who know both the incredible highs and lows of postseason racing. While they will get their final shot at more gold medals over the next month, both the Class of 2013 and their younger teammates made sure they left Lake Carnegie with yet another win.
Princeton won all five races Saturday morning during the 2013 home finale against 13th-ranked Michigan. The Tigers improved to 9-1 this season and remained unbeaten on Lake Carnegie; in fact, this class has lost only two varsity eight races at home over the last four years, and one came last season against Michigan.
That would not be the case Saturday morning, as the Tigers took control of this 2000-meter showdown early. Princeton won the varsity eight in 6:32.0, while Michigan finished second in 6:44.5.
"Michigan is always tough, so we wanted to stay in the race off the start and shift into a solid and confident base," senior Gabby Cole said. "It was a little gusty but for the most part we stayed internal and executed our race plan."
For Cole and several classmates in the varsity eight, it was a successful sendoff to a brilliant four years on Lake Carnegie.
"Honestly, it's an overwhelming feeling, because on a personal level you recall all that racing, Lake Carnegie and Princeton Rowing has meant to you: every up and down, the victories and the sacrifice," Cole said. "But you're also simultaneously aware of what it means on a global level: you realize how much of an honor it is to have spent four years being a part of something grander and more permanent than yourself and you feel yourself, in real time, becoming another small part of the history of such an amazing program. It was very special."
The second varsity also looked strong in its win. The Tigers won by more than 14 seconds in a time of 6:40.6. The lone NCAA Championships-format boat that was pushed was the varsity four, but the Tigers still managed a five-second victory in 7:42.2.
The Princeton third varsity topped a pair of Michigan novice eights in 7:06.5, while the Princeton 'B' topped a pair of fours in 7:44.8.
The Tigers will be off next weekend, and then will head to nearby Cooper River in Cherry Hill, N.J., for the 2013 Ivy League Championships. The event, which will decide both the league champion and the automatic qualifier to NCAAs, promises to be a wild one. No team will head into the regatta with a perfect record in the first varsity, and four different programs have won the title over the last five years.
"I think at this point we have all the pieces and we have even shown that we know how to put them all together," Cole said. "What it's really going to come down to is having the confidence and determination to rise up to the level of our collective potential. So now a lot of it will come down to our mental game."
2nd Varsity Eight
Third Varsity/Novice Eight
Princeton 3V 7:06.5
Michigan 1N 7:18.5
Michigan 2N 7:25.6
Princeton B 7:44.8
Michigan B 7:50.0
Michigan C 7:50.8
Princeton C 8:00.1